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Athletic department faulted, more on West Philly, Lieber's secret revealed.
HANDLING OF ELIGIBILITY CASE WAS UNSEEMLY AND EMBARRASSING
I learned of the possible ineligibility of defensive tackle Mitch Marrow and the ugly way the problem was handled with dismay and embarrassment [see story in this month's "Gazetteer," p. 10].
I can understand Marrow's desire for a lighter course load in view of his illness. I am a bit surprised that a 22-year-old senior would be unfamiliar with the probable consequences of dropping two of four courses, but I believe the harder questions must be reserved for Penn officials. Why didn't the athletic department know of Marrow's plan and counsel him with regard to it? Further, in some sense the University's academic officials knew Marrow had sought to drop the courses. Why wasn't an academic adviser made aware so that Marrow and the adviser could consider the effect of his plan on his eligibility!
These failures were made worse by what apparently followed. The effort by certain athletic department and academic officials to create an independent study course for Marrow with two weeks left in the semester is unseemly. These actions brought dishonor to Penn.
I am a very proud Penn alumnus and an avid Penn sports fan. However, winning is a distant second when compared to the importance of Penn's academic integrity and reputation. I hope the University is not harmed by this unfortunate affair.
Steven P. Sokolow
APPALLED AT REVIEW
I was appalled to see a serious review of an astrologically-oriented book, Gary Goldschneider's The Secret Language of Relationships, in the Gazette ["Off the Shelf," December 1997]. Have you no intellectual standards at all?
Edward D. Weil
LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES IN WEST PHILADELPHIA
I note with great interest the problems of the University and the West Philadelphia neighborhood ["The West Philadelphia Story," November 1997]. The solution is very clear: carefully review the attitudes and actions of the Administration in the early 1970s and do the absolute opposite.
A freshman arriving at Penn in the fall of 1970 walked into an Age of Hostility. The campus was one huge demolition site, dirty, disruptive, and incredibly noisy. Any neighborhood building with any history or human warmth was bulldozed to create brutalist buildings of undressed concrete. Old campus institutions, like bars and coffee shops, were relocated to single-story shopping plazas -- and promptly failed. Block-long rows of late Victorian houses with front porches and bay windows fell to "enhance" the Superblock area.
This activity was a clear reflection of the then-administration. The underlying problem was the shift from humanist institution to "big time" -- big bucks, big trophy buildings from big trophy donors, bigshot pencil sharpener-types in bigshot grad schools vying for bigshot corporate involvement. Students became "little people," neighbors became "ugh, them."
It's a long walk back -- to teaching, learning, exchanging experiences, to quality of life; back to people.
John H. Forbes
WHAT ABOUT CHURCHES?
I don't always take the time to read the Gazette, but the cover story of the November 1997 issue caught my eye. I found Samuel Hughes's article on West Philadelphia interesting but incomplete. How could any discussion of a community contain absolutely no references to churches? Churches play an important part in the life of most communities. Perhaps the author felt they aren't needed and play no part in the University of Pennsylvania's community.
John C. Rigney Jr.
Drexel Hill, Pa.
DON'T MAKE SANSOM COMMON ANOTHER SUBURBAN SQUARE
Thanks for the picture of my grandparents' drugstore, the Campus Pharmacy, which accompanied the article on Penn's development projects in West Philadelphia. I have only faint memories of the Campus Pharmacy -- great jars of maraschino cherries, baby shampoo, and a marble-topped soda fountain. By the time I got to Penn, the spot was already flattened -- a parking lot awaiting development that was slated to happen "any day now" for more than 10 years.
My husband and I urge the University to take a lesson from Manayunk, where high rents have already brought in Banana Republic and Pottery Barn, displacing much more interesting, independent retailers. We'll come to Sansom Common if it offers something we can't find in Suburban Square.
Ellen Spitzer Scolnic
David M. Scolnic
SOME TEXAN: YANKEE COWBOY SCARED OF DOGS
I was pleased to learn that Dave Lieber, C'79, had successfully become a Texan ["Bagels & Big-Haired Women," November 1997]. In the interest of full exposure, however, I have to point out that the Psycho Dog which almost kept him from marrying his beloved Karen was not the first dog to intimidate him.
In the 1970s he lived in a student house next to me. A few doors away there lived a dog (perhaps a golden retriever like Psycho Dog; at least she was that size and color) behind a jerry-built wooden fence. She barked furiously whenever anyone went down the alley, but she was all love, simply wanting attention and a furtive pat through the holes in the fence.
Lieber never believed that she was harmless and had no desire to find out. On his food runs to Koch's Deli, he slipped by the fence as quietly and quickly as possible. Once there, he bought two sandwiches, one of which he threw over the fence to keep the dog distracted while he scurried back to his home.
As a teacher of drama, I would like to think that he got the idea from Albee's The Zoo Story, but I suspect that it was fear, not literary analogy, that created his survival technique. I wonder if he bribed Psycho Dog as well.
Emeritus Professor of English
IMMIGRATION REALITY NOT SO ROSY AS PICTURED
Immigration is emotionally charged, poorly understood, and often distorted. Joel Millman's book, The Other Americans, appears to bring heat but not light to the subject ["Off the Shelf," November 1997].
According to the review by Edward Shils we are to believe that most immigrants are refugees, they are a "superior breed," and are the "essence of our world domination." Historians must be astounded and amused to learn that in 1898 "the U.S. acquired Cuba" and "America has been Latino since the 1830s." Finally, we hear that tired canard that the majority of immigrants are highly skilled workers and are not a welfare burden.
This space does not permit a full rebuttal, but Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) data shows less than 1 percent of immigrants to be in the category of highest-skilled. Many of them bring family, who are then included to improperly swell the number in that category. Rice University Professor Donald Huddle estimates the welfare cost of immigrants to be $100 billion. Robert Reich says that immigrants have a depressing effect on wages (thus hurting our native-born minorities and pushing them into welfare). The assertion that the poor who make it rich in America are largely foreign-born requires an extensive knowledge of the financial status of all the subjects of that inquiry.
There is a broad area for legitimate debate on this subject which lies somewhere between the raw data of the INS and others and the apparently misleading interpretations of Mr. Millman. Please review another book, one that might bring some balance to this matter.
WELFARE REFORM IS WORKING
Despite Dr. Bane's disagreement with President Clinton's quest to "end welfare as we know it" as voiced in "Welfare Reform: Flawed Process, Faulty Policy" ["Gazetteer," November 1997], few would argue against the necessity to do something to break the established dependency of generation after generation of those on welfare rolls.
An unearned check does nothing to instill pride of accomplishment nor to bolster human dignity. To foster the belief that it is right to use the government dole to raise and educate a family is wrong. The initiative to change welfare by encouraging its able-bodied recipients to become self-sufficient through gainful employment is working.
Hopefully, for the sake of balancing Dr. Bane's perspective, a lecture can be given by a proponent of the virtues of trying to reform welfare for the purpose of making more funding available for those who truly need it and nothing for
DR. PRUSINER'S NOBEL DESERVED MORE NOTICE
I was pleased to see the story on the receipt of the Nobel prize for medicine by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, C'64 ["Alumni Profiles," November 1997]. Frankly, I thought that this achievement deserved fuller treatment. Penn does not often have Nobel Prize winners, and I think this award and its recipient deserved at least as much notice as the story about Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott, worthwhile though that story might be.
I also noted that the fact that Dr. Prusiner was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi was not indicated. In fact, it seems to me that whenever a fraternity alumnus is portrayed in the Gazette for some notable achievement his fraternity membership is omitted. In fact, if one reads the Gazette, one would come away with the feeling that fraternities do not exist at Pennsylvania, unless there is a problem with a fraternity member, in which case this fact is trumpeted to the world. The philanthropic deeds of fraternities are hardly ever reported.
Fraternities are a vital part of the University, and contribute heavily to the development of their members. They produce loyal alumni who usually are givers to the University. I think fraternity membership ought to be noticed.
&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;George S. Toll
LETTERS ON GENETICS ARTICLE APPEAR TO BE SOLICITED
I recently took the time to review the letters to the editor in the October 1997 issue of the Gazette. I was disappointed that you chose not to publish any of the letters written by practicing genetic counselors in response to the article focusing on Glenn McGee's work ["Where Human Life Happens," June 1997].
Although you describe the letters from the genetic counseling community, you chose instead to publish ones that appear to me and other genetic counselor colleagues to have been solicited. Having been an editor of two major publications in the past, I understand this decision although I do not like it.
I feel compelled to remind you of my dual role in this discourse. Not only am I a practicing genetic counselor who directs a training program for genetic counselors, I also consider myself to be a member of the Penn community based on my 10 years as an employee at Children's Hospital (1977-1987), as a former member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (1985-1987), and as a graduate of the Penn Council for Relationships training program, which was affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at Penn (1993-1994).
I wish you well and the Gazette well, but I will remain skeptical of future articles and letters to the editor based on my experience this past year.
Deborah L. Eunpu
Genetic Counseling Program
[The first letter that appeared in our October "Letters" column was written by the executive director of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, Bea Leopold. No letters were solicited by the Gazette. -- Ed.]
FOOD TRUCKS DEGRADE CAMPUS
The article in the Gazette concerning food trucks is very misleading ["Gazetteer," October 1997]. The picture shown is one of the best-kept trucks. For the most part signs are hand-painted, and the appearance is anything but neat.
The whole appearance of the campus is degraded by the food trucks and their activities. In November, we came up Walnut Street for the Alumni Award of Merit dinner at Annenberg Center and could only pull over to let out passengers at the 37th Street entrance. Food trucks blocked the view and the space to pull over. The noise from their generators was intrusive up to the entrance of the dinner. This was not a pleasant way to return to campus.
It was clear the vendors do not want any sort of regulated venue. This might require answering some difficult questions about business taxes, residency, permits, etc.
My belief is that students, faculty, and staff are ambivalent as long as they can get a quick, portable snack. The food plazas could be a nice compromise and still allow us to look like the top-10 university we are. We are a first-rate institution and our appearance should reflect that.
David P. Kollock,
A "Gazetteer" item in our December issue on the opening of the IAST building understated the generosity of donors Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, C'50, chair of Penn's board of trustees, and his wife, Diana T. Vagelos. The Vagelos Scholars program in molecular life sciences will eventually provide financial aid and stipends for summer research projects for 40 undergraduate students per year, rather than 10, as the article implied.
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